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Beyond NewsThe Future of Journalism$
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Mitchell Stephens

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231159388

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231159388.001.0001

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“Much as One May Try to Disappear from the Work”

“Much as One May Try to Disappear from the Work”

The Argument Against Objectivity

(p.115) 5 “Much as One May Try to Disappear from the Work”
Beyond News

Mitchell Stephens

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines some of the limitations of journalistic objectivity. In the United States, journalists have trained not only themselves but also their audiences to treat an opinion as a sign of corruption. Their reward has been that letter writers, journalism reviews, and media websites on the left and the right are now always ready to pounce should a reporter express something that appears partisan. And this is happening even as interpretation is on the rise and belief in traditional forms of journalism is fading. Stephen Ward defines traditional journalistic objectivity as “the avoidance of all evaluation and judgment, the use of only facts and perfectly neutral chronicles of events.” This is, of course, impossible, as Ward understands it. Judgments and “evaluations”—evidence of subjectivity—can be detected at every stage in the production of a “story.” This chapter argues that objectivity, fairness, impartiality, and balance can sometimes be used as excuses for journalists not to do what they are supposed to do, as excuses for not doing their jobs.

Keywords:   journalistic objectivity, journalists, journalism, subjectivity, fairness, impartiality, balance

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